Too often, it is difficult to feel — much less mobilize — the power of the civic voice amid the forces of government and the interests of the city and state. In part an effort to combat this, last year an all-volunteer group of writers and activists created the Howard Zinn Book Fair: A Celebration of People’s History, Past Present and Future.
Taking as inspiration Zinn’s seminal book A People’s History of the United States (1980), the fair returns for a second annual event Sunday, Nov. 15, bringing together historians, poets, journalists, community leaders and grassroots organizers to discuss a wide range of social issues, including race, class and the criminal justice system.
“It was important for us to build something that reflected the vast contributions of everyday people to both politics and literature,” said co-founder and committee member James Tracy by e-mail. “The book fair is aPublic Service Announcement reminding us that history is something everyday people can shape together.
“Howard Zinn’s brilliance was his ability to use history to inspire people to ask hard questions about the future,” Tracy said. “The book fair is an opportunity to think beyond today’s controversies and campaigns and think about what comes next. The Bay Area has a rich history of dissent, and we want to make sure that it doesn’t get whitewashed away as our region goes through such extreme changes.”
Patrick Marks, coordinating committee member and owner of the Green Arcade bookstore, said by e-mail that “the nearly sixty panels the fair presents this year reflect a broad spectrum of the work and expression of many different individuals and groups who continue the legacies of writers and activists like Howard Zinn. The continuity of these legacies is ensured,” he writes, “as evidenced by the keynote at the fair: Dr.Clayborne Carson, civil rights movement veteran, in conversation with Alicia Garza, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Movement, introduced by Nicholas Baham III, Cal State East Bay Ethnic Studies Professor & author of The Coltrane Church: Apostles of Sound, Agents of Social Justice.
Rainbow Grocery Cooperative member and Book Fair Coordinating Committee member Christina Manalansan e-mailed that the fair is important specifically because it’s in San Francisco, “even though so many leftists and radicals are being pushed out of the City, along with their projects.”
“Earlier this year, my house (in the Mission) survived an eviction threat,” Manalansan said, “and during our fight we liked using the phrase ‘Still Here.’ I’ve noticed other groups and small businesses in the Mission saying ‘We’re still here!’ as well. Basically, not everyone is gone yet! So when I heard the HZBF was going to be a thing, I really wanted to help out to show that there are, indeed, leftists and radicals who are ‘Still Here!’”
IF YOU GO
Image courtesy James Tracy
Other book events this weekend
Jesse Eisenberg is in conversation with Steven Winn about Eisenberg’s debut story collection, “Bream Gives Me Hiccups,” part of City Arts & Lectures’ “On Arts” series benefiting the 826 Valencia Scholarship Program. (7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. $29. Nourse Theater, 275 Hayes St., S.F.)
Poetry Flash presents poets Bonnie Wai-Lee Kwong and Khaty Xiong (7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12. Free. Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley).
5+5 Gay Poets Dead and Alive series: Bruce Snider, Ari Banias, Roberto F. Santiago, Joshua Merchant and Joe Wadlington in the second of a two-part series presented by the Gay Ancestors Project. (6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13. Free. Alley Cat Books, 3036 24th St., S.F.).
Elana Chavez, Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta and Rae Armantrout read for the Heart’s Desire series (7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14. Free. Omni Commons, 4799 Shattuck Ave., Oakland).
Muthoni Kiarie joins Anita Felicelli, Emily Kiernan, Jennifer S. Cheng and Beth Minh Nguyen at the Hazel Reading Series (5 p.m. Sunday, Nov 15. Free. California Institute of Integral Studies, 1453 Mission St., S.F.).
Poets Monica McClure of New York and Trisha Low of Oakland read for Small Press Traffic (5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15. $6-$10. Artists’ Television Access, 992 Valencia St., S.F).